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MU admissions office responds to lower applicant numbers

University of Missouri admissions Office Officials and Faculty Council members are responding after early data indicate a drop in the number of freshmen applying to the university.

In an enrollment update sent to a list of administrators and faculty, admissions and enrollment administrators detail the most recent enrollment data. The update shows freshmen applications are down by more than 941 for fall of 2016.

“I thinks it’s early in the cycle. Of course, if we end up with a smaller number of student, that”s going to mean fewer dollars coming in, which is going to make things hard for everyone,” said Ben Trachtenberg,a member of the Faculty Council.

The memorandum details freshman applicant data back to 2012, when 17,678 prospective students applied to MU.

Subsequent years saw a steady increase — peaking at 19,318.

The most recent data shows nearly a 5 percent decrease for fall of 2016, which could be a problem if the trend continues.

“It’s very difficult to make cuts with short notice because we’re planning in advance about what courses we’re going to teach, and it’s not like we’re going to make the building disappear, and so of course it’s very difficult. So as you can imagine, we’re hoping that the enrollment stays sound,” said Trachtenberg.

It’s difficult to attribute an applicant slump to a particular issue. However, MU did have a turbulent fall semester with graduate health insurance cuts, though that was restored, and nationally-publicized race issues.

“I think it’s reasonable to think that that bad PR might have made some people nervous about coming here, but fortunately that means that if we get the message out about the great place we’re still running and how that hasn’t changed, we can fix that by the spring and get people to enroll,” said Trachtenberg.

The University of Missouri Admissions Office said lower applicant numbers could be blamed on more competition in major markets, especially in Chicago.

“Increased competition in our major markets coupled with fewer high school students in Missouri, Illinois and Kansas due to lower birthrates 18 years ago and out-migration to Southern states,” said Chuck May, director of admissions.

As for efforts to increase enrollment, MU officials plan to visit high schools, attend college fairs, and use current MU students to help with recruiting efforts.

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